PRAYER OF CONSECRATION
Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.
Jesus, I belong to you.
I lift up my heart to you.
I set my mind on you.
I fix my eyes on you.
I offer my body to you as a living sacrifice.
Jesus, we belong to you.
Praying in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, amen.
Acts 13:26–41 (NIV)
“Fellow children of Abraham and you God-fearing Gentiles, it is to us that this message of salvation has been sent. The people of Jerusalem and their rulers did not recognize Jesus, yet in condemning him they fulfilled the words of the prophets that are read every Sabbath. Though they found no proper ground for a death sentence, they asked Pilate to have him executed. When they had carried out all that was written about him, they took him down from the cross and laid him in a tomb. But God raised him from the dead, and for many days he was seen by those who had traveled with him from Galilee to Jerusalem. They are now his witnesses to our people.
“We tell you the good news: What God promised our ancestors he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising up Jesus. As it is written in the second Psalm:
“‘You are my son;
today I have become your father.’
God raised him from the dead so that he will never be subject to decay. As God has said,
“‘I will give you the holy and sure blessings promised to David.
So it is also stated elsewhere:
“‘You will not let your holy one see decay.’
“Now when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep; he was buried with his ancestors and his body decayed. But the one whom God raised from the dead did not see decay.
“Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain under the law of Moses. Take care that what the prophets have said does not happen to you:
“‘Look, you scoffers,
wonder and perish,
for I am going to do something in your days
that you would never believe,
even if someone told you.’”
Let’s remember where we are. We are in the city of Pisidian Antioch (not to be confused with the earlier Antioch we visited). It is the Sabbath and we are in the synagogue. They just offered a reading from the Law and the Prophets. Wouldn’t we love to know what that was?! Then they asked the apostle Paul if he had a “word of exhortation” for the people. In other words, they gave him the microphone and let him make an announcement.
And boy did he ever! He could have said so many things, but he said one thing. He gave the CliffsNotes version of the Bible, announced the gospel, and made an invitation. And he did it all in a svelte 574 words, coming in shorter than even the shortest Wake-Up Call entry. My favorite part is the announcement:
“We tell you the good news: What God promised our ancestors he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising up Jesus . . .
“Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain under the law of Moses.
It was the announcement to end all announcements; the ace of spades “trump card” announcement.
Every Sunday at the Gillett Methodist Church the worship service opens with a time of announcements. It never ceases to amaze me how such a small church can have so many announcements, and I love them all. As I step up to the microphone, the announcements are spread out across the pulpit like a bulletin board. From bake sales to the high school seniors’ catfish lunch fundraiser to the Oktoberfest celebration down the block at the Lutheran church (and yes they had beer) to the Women’s Road Trip Retreat to hear Lisa Terkuerst in Jackson, Mississippi, and on I could go. Early on in my work here I decided I would add a final announcement each week; a sort of announcement to end all announcements. It’s the ace of spades “trump card” announcement. It goes like this:
In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.
Yep—straight out of Hebrews 1:1–3; coming in at a whopping eighty-nine words; this is the mother of all announcements. This is the reason we are here. After this, Mrs. Thelma plays the prelude and we are off to the races.
Dear friends, there are so many announcements, yet there is so little time. So much happens in a worship gathering, so many good things, and yet we can completely miss the main thing. I can tend to say so much and at the same time say so little. It’s something how these early witnesses of Jesus said so little yet said it all.
I want to be like them when I grow up. It’s why I’m rememberizing Hebrews 1:1–3. Will you join me? Something tells me it will figure prominently in our January series on fasting and prayer. Some of you are already seeing the connections . . .
THE PRAYER OF TRANSFORMATION
Lord Jesus, I am your witness.
I receive your righteousness and release my sinfulness.
I receive your wholeness and release my brokenness.
I receive your fullness and release my emptiness.
I receive your peace and release my anxiety.
I receive your joy and release my despair.
I receive your healing and release my sickness.
I receive your love and release my selfishness.
I receive the simplicity of your Word and release the complexity of my many words.
Come, Holy Spirit, transform my heart, mind, soul, and strength so that my consecration becomes your demonstration; that our lives become your sanctuary. For the glory of God our Father, amen.
Have you considered that the gospel of Jesus Christ is also the Old Testament—that the story of Jesus does not begin in Matthew 1? We live in an age that has reduced the gospel to a series of propositional statements. What risks do we assume by taking this reductionistic approach? Could you tell the story of the Bible in 547 words or less? Give it a shot in your journal today. What is your CliffsNotes version?
Today we will sing one we’ve already sung in the series but cries out to be reprised today: “We’ve a Story to Tell to the Nations.” It is hymn 458 in our Seedbed hymnal, Our Great Redeemer’s Praise.
For the Awakening,
J. D. Walt